The Washington Post

Codels to Asia, anyone?


A North Korean military officer briefs visitors on the Demilitarized Zone. (Ng Han Guan/AP)

House Foreign Relations Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is leading one group taking off Friday for a week in Taiwan and Korea, looking at three days in Seoul and three in Taipei.

You’ll get to Taipei in time for the inaugural banquet of newly reelected President Ma Ying-jeou. There’ll be meetings with Ma and other top officials, talking about China, trade and the controversial sale of F-16s, including the new model the administration has balked at providing.

Then it’s off to Korea to meet with President Lee Myung-bak and others, visit the DMZ — great photo-ops — and talk about dealing with the lunatic North Koreans. Others tentatively going include GOP Reps. Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.), Jean Schmidt (Ohio), Dan Burton (Ind.), Jim Gerlach (Pa.) and Brad Miller (D-N.C.).

This is not a particularly Loop-recommended trip. Ros-Lethinen runs a pretty tight ship. And while spouses are going along — as well as some staff — there will be endless meetings.

A much better bet is a 10-day jaunt, also leaving Friday, led by House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), to China, Korea and India.

This is a “bipartisan, fact-finding mission,” a committee spokesperson e-mailed, “to learn global solutions that could increase America’s competitiveness in the classroom and the workplace.”

This sounds very good. The Taj, the Great Wall ...

“Members will also seek a greater understanding of the region as it relates to trade policy and our broader national security,” the e-mail said, “through roundtables and meetings with cabinet-level officials” plus “visits to schools, universities, and business centers.” Excellent. No square tables.

We could not be told who was on board because of “security” concerns.

But we’re hearing others who might be on board include: GOP Reps. Virginia Foxx (N.C.), Phil Roe (Tenn.), Erik Paulsen (Minn.) and Tim Walberg (Mich.), and Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre (N.C.), plus spouses and staff.

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Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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